So after our “quiet night” in Nashville we met for breakfast in a not particularly zestful mood. Rod couldn’t muster a word until mid morning.
Anyway, we saddled up and set off, it immediately started to rain in that American massive rain type of way. All day was a race to stay ahead of the storms, each time we stopped we then set off again in rain. We eventually decided to join the interstate and get some mileage under our belt. It was here we discovered that the huge American trucks aren’t speed restricted….and they are faster than Harley Davidson’s.
We arrived in Memphis and checked into the Hilton. After freshening up we headed down to Beale Street. This was a little like Nashville but more drunk. We witnessed some lovely dancing in Coyote Ugly, where I was twerked at, and ate some great Gumbo, pulled pork and Ribs……….and some crab cakes, potatoes, coleslaw….you get the picture!! A few more drinks and pics with the local rozzers and back to the hotel.
Tomorrow will see us visiting Gracelands and take a paddle steamer down the Mississippi.
Yesterday (Wed) was a fairly quiet day. We rode about 170 miles mainly off the beaten track where people keep their furniture in their gardens rather than in their houses.
The highlight was arriving in Nashville, the home of country music (and they really really like country music) and the blues (other colours are available).
We walked up Broadway, a heady mix of neon signs, cowboys hat (no we didnt buy any) and live music. It was absolutely brilliant.
We had dinner at BB Kings Blues place. The live music was terrific and there was a guest appearance by Tom Wurth an up and coming gramy nominated country star (who bore an uncanny resemblance to Michael Flatley).
Lee popped outside and bumped into a mountain of a man. It made Lee look like he was from Lilliput.
We are heading to Memphis today and will hopefully get a tour of Gracelands and find a bar with an Elvis impersonator. If not, I am sure Lee will oblige…..
Getting to grips with the time difference I had a lazy lie in until a shameful 5:00am. I spent an hour taking advantage of the fact that all the hotel staff were still in bed and went for a play on the golf buggys (no keys to start them, but I pretended). We went for breakfast at 6:30 where we were greeted by a chef who would cook at the table, I had a mushroom and bacon omelette with a side of bacon and mushrooms!
With breakfast over and checkout complete we saddled up the bikes which were covered in ice…..-1degrees. After some procrastination the temperature rose by a degree and so we headed off. The first destination was the Dragons Tail.
America commercialises everything and a twisty road is no differen, so at the start of this road was a resort which sold souvenirs, Rod and I fully aware of this commercial exploitation only bought 3 T shirts and some other random tat!! They weren’t going to get the better of us!!!
Whilst readying ourselves for the ride we were pretty confident that with our previous heroic experiences that we’d be fine…..but then we noticed the monument to previous pretenders…
We dispatched the Yankee dragon thing with some style
Now the problem with Harley’s is that you don’t have to lean them very much for bits of them to start scraping on the road, but Rod and I are convinced we took out the insurance which allows us to return the bikes with no foot pegs. Following the Dragon we visited the Largest Harley dealership you can imagine…. We weren’t going to be suckered in to commercialism again…..we only bought a few T shirts and ancillary stuff that doesn’t Fit!! We’ve been doing this trip without the aid of sat nav or maps (because we forgot to bring them) and in the main Rod OS Jackson has done a reasonably good job of getting us somewhere vaguely near our intended destinations, but this afternoon we had the indignity of paddling our bikes backwards up an interstate (motorway) exit because we entered going the wrong way!!!!!
After a long days riding We arrived in Crossville at what we thought was late, but unbeknown to us we’d crossed another timeline. So it turns out it wasn’t that late after all. It does mean however that I’ll be up at 4am tomorrow rather than 5.
We couldn’t find a hotel that had a bar and resigned ourselves to a quiet night, then we spotted a winery and restaurant and hatched a cunning plan. With plenty of free wine in us we went to the restaurant and met Denise the owner . She was hilarious and came up with a load of new sayings…….she told us the hotels had no bars because Tennessee is a dry state as we were right in “the buckle of the Bible Belt” she asked one of her young female waiting staff over who thought that all Irish were actual leprechauns!!!!! Denise said she’s denser than “a bucket of rocks” and when another waitress said that I sounded like James Bond! Denise said “she’s more country than a turnip green!!!!” We had a real laugh tonight and picked up some great tips for Nashville tomorrow! Till then!
Mon morning dawned and brought a whole heap of crazy weather with it. After a 2,000 calorie breakfast we went out to survey the conditions. Clouds the like of which you have never seen rolled across the sky – it was like something from the apocalypse.
As we were nearby the world famous Augusta golf course and with only a week to the start of the Masters Tournament, we thought we would go and take a photo at the venue. Apparently bikers weren’t welcome so we left without photos and feeling slightly inadequate – a feeling they passed fairly quickly.
Next stop was the local gun range. We made it just before the rainstorm started. Luckily they didn’t open for another 10 minutes so we got to enjoy some of the storm alfresco.
We shot a series of weapons includes a 357 magnum and an AR51 – Rod was described as a natural and championship standard, Lee was a bit more remedial ‘for God’s sake, point it that way’ !!
By the time we finished shooting, the rain had passed and we set off for the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.
It was a great days riding. The clouds separated after lunch (massive burger) and the temperatures soared to around 20C.
Tomorrow we are planning to ride ‘the dragons tail’ – the most complex road in America with 318 corners in 11 miles. I suspect Lee will struggle. Thereafter we will end up in Nashville, Tennessee for a night of Country music. I really hope Taylor Swift is in town !!
Today we were to ride into Georgia and at breakfast it appeared that Rod had modified his body (just to fit in).
When saddling up it was a chilly 38 degrees F (which in English is bloody cold). It was Sunday morning and the noise the two bikes make when firing up awoke the entire hotel, so we headed off quite sharply. After just a couple of miles I had to pull in to put warmer clothing on, which was great other than I didn’t have any warmer clothes.
Georgia is a beautiful state, most people were in huge pick up trucks dressed in camouflage trying to shoot turkeys, but whilst riding up route1 we spotted (walking in the middle of the carriageway) a fella dressed like Jesus, wearing a thorny crown pulling a huge cross!!!
The roads were very quiet, and the towns were very historic but also very quiet, possibly because it was Sunday which left the big burger chains as the only eating options. We both fell victim to the dreaded anti fraud measures that banks use today (basically declining your card for payment in the most embarrassing situation).
We found ourselves stopping frequently as it was so cold today but we eventually made it to our overnight destination, Augusta, home of the Masters.
After a welcome beer we headed off somewhere “traditional” for dinner where we burned our lips off on spicy chicken.
Tomorrow we’re going shooting in the morning before heading up to the Smoky Mountains and Chatanooga.
‘fancy a coffee?” chirped a text at 5am this morning. So there, we were. Sat in a very austere hotel room about 10 miles for Orlando airport waiting for the dawn and the opportunity to collect our rental bikes.
At 6:30am, the hotel started serving what they described as breakfast. A heady blend of powered egg and reconstituted pork sausage, it really was good enough to leave, so we did !
The bike hire place was a mere $70 cab ride away. The taxi was driven by an amply proportioned character who clearly had never been further afield than the Disney complex. He needed my phone with GPS to find our destination but we got there…eventually!
The bikes are great. I got a Fat Boy (!) and Lee got a Low Rider (!!!!!) – 1,700cc of pure noise. The new only downside is that the dealership have debited my account for more than twice than I was expecting, but that’s a problem for another time.
We only did about 100 miles today but it was terrific. Picturesque scenes and friendly people wherever we went (mostly to eat).
Tonight we have ended up in the outskirts of Jacksonville – a fine sounding place. A dinner of various wings; shrimp; and quesadillas hit the spot and in fact made the spot bulge further still.
Tomorrow will see us enter the Bible Belt on a Sun. What could possibly go wrong !